“Force majeure” is an uncommon term referring to an act of God, an act of man, an irresistible force, a superior force or Mother Nature. When a tragedy strikes, we often just shake our heads and say, “It was meant to be,” or, “It was God’s will.” In the legal world, “force majeure” is used because, legally, lawyers cannot reference God in a contract or a statement. Lawyers cannot hold God responsible or prove that something was his doing.
When it comes to motorcycling and car wrecks, we use the term “accident” or “crash.” Although the terms are interchangeable, motor-vehiclists (yes, that is a word I made up) and the automotive/insurance industry use the word “accident” when it comes to motor vehicles. In motorcycling, we hear the word “crash” more often.
Depending on your point of view, these words often represent a mindset. If I get on my motorcycle and think, “I hope I don’t get in an accident today,” it’s not necessarily the same as if I think, “I better be ready for a crash today.”
The vehicle industry goes to great lengths to make sure we are protected in case of an accident. Our cars have hundreds of safety features that we take for granted. To name a few, our cars feature airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, automatic lights, and seatbelts (although they have not been updated since 1968).
Road systems are constructed for motor vehicles (not motorcycles or bicycles). Let’s face it, even a drunk person has a decent chance of surviving a crash.
In contrast, a drunk motorcyclist does not have that same chance of survival.
Motorcyclists have very few safety features on their bikes. We have lights (front and back, not so much on the sides) and brakes. More modern bikes have an anti-skid braking system and traction control; a few now have airbags. Any other safety measures are pretty much up to the rider.
Motorcycling is inherently a dangerous mode of transportation. When riders think there is a possibility that one day they might get in an accident or force majeure, they are more inclined to leave their fate to chance. This may be the reason that some motorcyclists just wear the minimum amount of clothing, such as shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops and small, peanut-sized helmets – while others are well armored with protective gear and a full-face helmet.
I have often said that if a person is hit by another person then they let that person get too close. There are two situations I can think of that a person cannot control. The first thing that comes to mind is animals. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of deer. The weather is getting warmer and fresh grass is growing on the sides of the highways, so keep your eyes open.
The other situation is weather. High winds, storms, hail, fallen trees and lightning are the most dangerous. There is a saying, “When thunder roars, go indoors.” The best possible solution to these situations is to just avoid them. Like the rules at a swimming pool, if you hear thunder or see lightning, find shelter. Gas stations, restaurants, under bridges or car washes are great places to wait out a storm.
However, if you ride long enough, you will eventually get caught in bad weather. For these situations, it is best to dress for success and have some good rain gear with you until you can get to a safe place.
No matter how you ride or what your mindset is, if you have an unfortunate event, then may the force majeure be with you.
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